Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Rubber stamps and color pencils, it must be love

In another century I taught a series of workshops called How to Make Friends With Color.  One of the tools we worked with was a page of the same rubber stamped images repeated in order to practice working with different combinations of color.  This was the sample sheet.
Images from Rubbermoon Stamps, designed by Dave Brethauer, Jane Cather and Marylinn Kelly.
The workshop began with suggesting that students start by keeping a color journal, something in which to save swatches of fabric, ribbon, paper, yarn, anything that spoke to their personal color preferences.  Clippings, photographs, color copies, anything and everything.   I also mentioned watching movies with the eyes of a color detective, haunting galleries and museums, buying posters and postcards and taking notes.  "You are an artist in search of your voice," I told them.  "Leave no stone unturned."

For the hands-on work, they played with layering soft-lead color pencil, my favorite medium, color over color, color smudged with fingers or a paper towel, erased color.  Becoming comfortable with any medium involves practice, i.e. play.  Developing authentic self-expression in any form is a process.  With the luxury of time, my process took the form of stamping then sitting and coloring with pencils every day.  For hours.  I experimented with shading and erasing, retaining or discarding.  A word or two about shading:  it doesn't have to look natural, these aren't photographs.  Shading - with any color, in any areas of the image - adds dimension, texture and interest.  I described the process as being less like trial-and-error and more like discovery.  And my confession is that I have never worked with a color wheel, not that I discourage anyone from doing so.  It was just not my path.  The colors seem to tell me what would work with what.  Sometimes it happened, sometimes not.
Stamp images from Stampington and Co., designed by Marylinn Kelly.
Rubber stamped designs offer coloring-book opportunities to play with color pencils or whatever medium you choose.  When I started producing stamp designs and samples in the mid-1990s, Prismacolor pencils were probably the most popular.  Now many art stores carry their own brands and the field is wide open.  What you want for the sort of result shown in these samples is a soft-lead pencil, not the ones intended for watercoloring, though any experimenting could include anything you find in the marketplace.
Three panels of Rubbermoon stamps, copyright Marylinn Kelly.
Both Stampington and Co., for a collection of my designs called The Un-Usual Suspects, and Rubbermoon for my most recent collection, six sheets of unmounted stamps, offered customers color versions of the stamps to get the coloring process under way.  For Stampington, the packages of cling-mounted dies even came with written instructions for pencil coloring

You can find the Stampington collection here (watch for the color) and continuing on the next catalog page.

Rubbermoon's website, with images listed by artist, has the unmounted sheets shown, plus three others and individual images here.  Just a year ago, Rubbermoon was purchased from the Valoff family which started it 20 years ago.  The new owner, Kristen Powers, has produced a 110-page feast of a catalog with images going back to the days when the company began.

**For those of you relatively new to rubber stamping, a catalog that offers art going back 20 years, into what certainly seemed like the golden age of stamping, is a rare thing.  There may still be a few manufacturers remaining that were in business then.  I don't know how much of their classic art is available.  Kristen's true labor of love shows designs from the company's original two artists, Jane Cather and Joanna Taylor.  Work by all the designers who have been part of the Rubbermoon family are shown, including the newest work by Kristen.  The catalog, a keepsake which includes pages for journaling, stamping, coloring and more is available through the etsy site.**

If you are on FB, you can find Rubbermoon there and see that Kristen has put out the call for members of a new creative team.  Check the site for details.

If you have any questions - about the stamps, about coloring - you may leave me a comment on the blog or email me at the address given in my profile.  For a comment, check back here for the reply.  Here are a few more images which I hope will encourage you to make friends, if you aren't already, with color.  xo
Top two illustrations Marylinn Kelly stamps for Rubbermoon.  Lower illustration, bird by Kristen Powers, cat quartet and rose, Marylinn Kelly for Rubbermoon, Santa hats drawn on.


rubbermoon said...

Oh WOW! You rock! Love you, your art and your blog post! Gonna share okay?? xokp

debra said...

Inspiring as always! xoxo

LilaJ said...

Marylinn's and Rubbermoon's images have been my favorites since the 90's Love your work!

Marylinn Kelly said...

Hey, Rubbermoon - Thank you. Please do share. That's what we're here for. Going to add a bit more about the catalog, a little rewrite. Up in a few minutes. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Debra - Thank you. My roots. I am always so happy when I get back to them. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

LilaJ - Thank you, and for being with us since the early days. There is not, has never been, a company like Rubbermoon. I'm so glad you enjoy it. xo

Anonymous said...

Where do I find the snowman?

Marylinn Kelly said...

To 29fc, etc. - The snowman and trees are one large-ish stamp. The product number is mk963j. He is also available as a snowman only, head to toe, so to speak, in two sizes. The smaller is about 1 5/8", # mk575f, and the larger is about 3 1/4", # 2070k. The snowman with trees, in a frame, is 3 5/8" wide by 2 1/2" deep. An f coded stamp is $7.80, a k stamp is 12.20 and a j is 11.20. You can message Kristen at Rubbermoon to order and receive shipping and tax information. All images are in the wonderful catalog, along with hundreds of others. xo

Melissa Green said...

Love you, dear friend, and this post and your artwork make me smile! xoxo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Melissa - Keeses. So glad the creatures and I brought along a power for happiness. xo

M said...

I adore your idea of a color journal! I think I will try it! Your stamps are so delightful and inspiring.
How did you go about having your art turned into professional stamps? Do you send the art somewhere and the stamps are then created by a machine? Did you have to pay to have the stamps made, or does the company say "We love your work and want to pay you for some stamps" ?
I've done a lot of my own stamp making out of rubber erasers, but it's hard to carve anything really detailed.
Thanks for inspiring me everyday! You rock! ~Magalina

Marylinn Kelly said...

M - Thank you so much. The color journal is fun, especially if one is not challenged by consistency, as I sometimes am, and becomes a great resource for any project that comes up. I will message you about the stamping business questions you've asked. And I love eraser carving. Talk about instant gratification. Up stamping in the middle of the night? Oh, I wish I had a (name your image). Voila. xo

Dlee said...

I love your coloring and I have a lot of your stamps. Have so much fun using them and coloring them. Thanks to Debra and you I have learned to be a little more secure in using my color pencils, which I use almost exclusively. Not much for markers.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Dlee - Thank you. Hearing from you about the fun you have using the stamps, especially coloring them, makes me very happy. My wish all along has been to share what a good time we can have with some stamps and color pencils. I think Debra is remarkable for keeping the company and the distinctive Rubbermoon "look" going and growing for so long. Once I began playing with pencils, rather than the brush-tip markers, there was no turning back. Thank you for commenting. It is a kind of fun that never grows old. xo